Guest Post: A Eulogy for the Hipster?

Last week another article popped up in a major publication about the twenty-something hipster. However, this essay claimed that this generation of hipster is dead. The PBR-drinking (do we really drink that much PBR?), flannel-wearing, vinyl-buying hipster is gone.

Done. Finished.

I have my own theories on this (which I will post tomorrow), but one of my favorite bloggers, Meghan over at Blackberries to Apples, has some thoughts on this topic that I’d like to share with you…

A Eulogy for the Hipster
By Meghan Blalock

On this week’s cover of New York magazine reads the line: “The Last Word on the Hipster: A Historiography by Mark Greif.” The story on the inside opens in large black font with, “What Was The Hipster?” and Greif extrapolates in past-tense his four-page argument that the contemporary Hipster is dead: that “it is evident that we have reached the end of an epoch in the life of the [hipster],” whose lifespan was approximately 1999 to 2009, and while the hipster seems to persist in 2010, the end of his existence is imminent and nigh.
In response to Greif’s death announcement, I decided to pen a eulogy for the Hipster. Because even white dominant-class rebel consumers with a taste for hunting jackets, lumberjack beards and “basement rec room pornography” aesthetics deserve to be recognized on the occasion of their passing.

Friends, I am here today to lead you in remembering and mourning the life of the Hipster at the hour of his death. You may at first feel confusion – as you walk down Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn or East 6th St. in Austin, Texas you may see what appear to be Hipsters – skinny jeans, flannel shirts, Daft Punk stickers, and all – but trust me when I say these are not True Hipsters. They are merely Replica Hipsters, molding themselves in the shape of those who came before to confuse the outsiders. If we lived on planet Caprica instead of Earth, they might be referred to as cylons. They are not to be trusted. Soon all that will be left is a collage of crushed PBR cans and cast-aside fixed-gear bicycles, lonely chains hanging idly from their tracks.
The Hipster is dead. It is sad and unfortunate, that the lifestyle on which he thrived – placing himself at the middle of a very exclusive circle based on knowing and consuming things before anyone else knew or consumed them – was incapable of surviving more than the all-too-brief ten years it allowed the Hipster to walk among us. After all, we cannot deny that exclusivity, by definition, is doomed to die a commonplace death at the hands of the bloodthirsty masses. The more people cognizant of Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s new all-acoustic album that he recorded in a woodshed with a circa-1993 Fisher-Price Tuff Stuff Tape Recorder, the less chance one has of actually being the first to buy said album. Yeah, I’m looking at you Will Oldham.

Even those who first led the charge of the Hipster will agree that he is dead. In fact, they were amongst the first to decree it. Dov Charney drove in the first nail with his declaration that “hipster is over.” What you may not know is that while he was stating his exclusive knowledge of the demise of the Hipster, he was also ushering in the next era of counterculture: the Pornster. Terry Richardson is widely recognized as his main collaborator. Nick Denton was next in line, preferring to look forward, openly acknowledging that on the heels of the still-warm Hipster is the Fauxhemian. Of course, none of this matters because all three of them are now dead too – victims of the fledging disease of the Hipster. Just Google it.

My friends, do not resign yourself to wallowing in your $1,500 studio apartment on Driggs, rising only to stare pensively out the window whilst smoking Marlboros and hoping for a mere glimpse of a double-rainbow over the Manhattan skyline. Never fear, for artifacts from the Hipster’s reign remain. Just look around the room today. Tommy, no one’s record collection will ever top yours. Who else has the original vinyl demo of Arcade Fire’s incredibly moving and aptly named Funeral? Sarah, your collection of FTW skinny jeans is the most extensive I’ve ever seen, especially considering that you hand-stitched most of them yourself with your grandmother’s vintage sewing machine. Rob, your one-of-a-kind wayfarers made from recycled beer cans collected from the ground following Grizzly Bear’s performance at Lollapalooza will never be forgotten.

Some of you may still be asking, How do we move forward? We are a lost race, wandering and groping for a home, yes: we don’t understand how suddenly everything came crashing down, how the lives we found ourselves leading – a part-time job at Starbucks, a $1,500 studio on Driggs right next to the L stop, a wall filled with drawings and poems we simply knew would change the world forever – came to an abrupt halt. There appears, friends, to be no causation at play here. Just know that those who came before us, as is often the case, set us up to fail. We could have done nothing differently, because we were only following our hearts.

And that is precisely what we must continue to do. Sadly, I cannot change the past, and I certainly cannot bring the Hipster back from the dead – because, as we know all too well, once a subculture is dead, it’s lost forever to a mysterious ether where it mingles with the Hippie and the Beat Poet and Baby Boomer – but I can offer my lowly suggestions for how to continue living through the pain of this loss.

We simply must go on. We must keep writing poetry and tacking it to our walls. We must keep our collection of thick-framed glasses and our Chuck Taylor and/or Vans sneakers. We must continue to sit at bars with our friends and get drunk on the cheapest beer offered while discussing our amazing idea we have for a novel that we will eventually turn into a play that could totally translate to film. We must continue to not shower if we don’t feel like it, because we don’t agree with the rules “society” (finger quotes, people) has set up for us. We must continue to refuse the construction of a chain breakfast restaurant in our neighborhood, because – ugh – we simply don’t pander to corporations. We must continue to discuss the finer points of Lady Gaga’s philosophical implications, because if we don’t – who’s going to? We simply must, because we owe it to him. We owe it to the Hipster.
Finally, I implore you to remember: the Hipster may be dead, but he can live on in us. The choice is ours and ours alone.

Check out Meghan’s blog here. She is a Southern gal living and making it in the Big Apple. Her stories about being twenty-something, living in a big city, and wanting to take life by the balls are not only relatable, but humorous and touching. Blackberries to Apples is the recipient of Blogger’s “Blog of Note” and you can check out more of Meghan’s work under the “Read Me” section of her blog.

What do you think? Do you agree with Mark Grief and Meghan that the modern day hipster is dead?

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  • Reply Just Plain Tired November 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I can't say I was aware of the life of the hipster to begin with, but if there's still a heartbeat, there's still life I'd say.

  • Reply theTsaritsa November 1, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I'll shed a tiny tear and play my tiny violin.

    My sister is a hipster and doing all the stuff I did at her age: drinking malt liquor, going to shows, listening to Joy Division. It's a phase, but I don't think it'll ever die out.

  • Reply Emily November 1, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    See I always tried to say I'm not a hipster but truth is I probably am. I own a shit-ton of band t-shirts, Americal Apparel clothing, Ray-Ban's, Bret Easton Ellis novels, skinny jeans, clear frame geek glasses, a bike and I love Arcade Fire.

    Whatever, I'm a hipster. I hope we don't all die out…

  • Reply Madison Rae November 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I don't think it's possible for a whole group of a social trend to die out completely – especially in our day and age. That would be like saying hippies are no longer existent (which isn't true, and will not be true), or that punk is dead.
    There will always be a group of younger people who, as the 'hipsters' move on with their lives and get 'real' jobs and things (god forbid), grow into wanting to be that. They've got all the resources and the freedom to do what they want.
    Generation One of hipsters may be over, but I'm sure the youngin's in my generation will be jumping on that bandwagon shortly – or creating our own definition of hipster entirely.

  • Reply Benny November 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    This one's really tough. I think that the classic hipster, ie the Williamsburg Hipster, is dead. I have a strong feeling that it's different in other American cities and suburbs. The thing is, I feel like other American cities actually have poor people who have the time and money to consume culture. New York City really doesn't. I saw a Puerto Rican standup comedian the other day and he said something brilliant about hipsters: "I remember back in the day, the original hipsters were more ghetto than the Puerto Ricans. They'd be smoking weed on their stoops and taking food stamps to the bodegas." Those hipsters don't live in NYC anymore, but I feel like you can still find them in other cities.

    I feel like the majority of people who use the term "hipster" in both the + and – senses are referring to NYC hipsters. In the rest of the world, though, they're still kicking, even if they're not called hipsters anymore.

  • Reply Adria November 1, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Maybe dead, but not gone.

    Not after the party I was at last night. Most definitely not dead.

  • Reply Hannah Miet November 1, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    At the risk of sounding like a major bitch to two of my favorite ladies, I cannot bear another analysis of the hipster, book about the hipster, eulogy for the hipster, or even the word "hipster."

    With all due respect, I'm plugging my ears and going la la la la la…

    Movements are bigger than the words than confine them. I don't give a fuck about hipsters, whether they're dead, if I am one, or what makes one.

    People need to do their damn thing sometimes.

  • Reply ISRAEL CARRASCO November 2, 2010 at 4:14 am

    Thank God. This shit was long overdue.

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    […] lot has been said elsewhere (no, seriously, a lot) about the cultural movement that is hipsterism. A large portion of that […]

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